Monday, 6 October 2008

Black History Month

Black History Month is a remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. It is celebrated annually in the United States and Canada in the month of February, while in the UK it is held in the month of October.

The remembrance was originated in 1926 by historian Carter G. Woodson* as "Negro History Week". Woodson chose the second week of February because it marked the birthdays of two Americans who greatly influenced the lives and social condition of African Americans: former President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

When the tradition of Black History Month was started in the US, many in mainstream academia had barely begun to explore black history. At that point, most representation of blacks in history books was only in reference to the low social position they held as slaves and their descendants, with the exception of George Washington Carver. Black History Month can also be referred to as African-American History Month, or African Heritage Month. W.E.B. DuBois' 1935 work "Black Reconstruction" was an early work in history that pointed to black contributions.

In the United Kingdom (UK), Black History Month was first celebrated in the month of October 1987, African Jubilee year, as part of a drive to improve racial harmony in London. It has since grown to encompas the whole country and to recognise and embrace the contributions and traditions of other black communities.

Part of the aim of Black History Month is to recognize significant contributions to society made by people with African heritage and how their history is integral to mainstream narratives. It demonstrates how all peoples contribute to a culture.
(sources: wikipedia and the reading-borough-council booklet)

*Dr Carter G Woodson is a black American historian who created a month (february) for African American people to have the opportuniy to celebrate and acknowledge themselves and their achievements.

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